Guilty plea: Geoff Huegill and Sara Hill arriving at court. Photo: Chris PearceFormer Australian swimmer Geoff Huegill and his publicist wife Sara Hill have pleaded guilty to cocaine possession.
The pair were given six-month good behaviour bonds in Waverley Local Court on Wednesday after being caught with the prohibited drug in the bathrooms of an exclusive suite at Sydney’s Randwick racecourse last month.
Magistrate Clare Farnan blasted the swimming champion and father-of-two, saying she found it “disturbing” that a person who is looked up to in the community, particularly among young people, “should choose to behave in this way”.
“I deal day in, day out, with young people who I lecture about the choices you make,” she said.
Police were called to the suite on Schweppervesence Stakes day by a security guard after receiving a tip-off and observed Huegill placing something in his jacket pocket after emerging from a disabled toilet with his wife.
They questioned Huegill, 35, in a nearby unused bar area and he admitted he had a bag of cocaine in his wallet.
Hill, 30, then joined her husband in the bar area and admitted she also had a bag of cocaine in her handbag. There was less than one gram of the drug in each bag.
The couple’s lawyer Dean Woodbury told the court that the pair were polite and co-operative with police and Hill willingly approached officers and admitted she had cocaine on her.
“She had an opportunity to dispose [the drugs] but she didnt,” he said.
The drug bust occurred in a private area and involved a small quantity of cocaine, he said.
“It wasn’t like they were flashing it around where they were,” he said.
Mr Woodbury told the court that the pair had no criminal record, were loving parents and both “clearly people of exceptional character” who should be treated no differently because of their fame.
However he also asked Magistrate Farnan to consider Huegill’s impressive history as a swimmer, saying she would probably be familiar with his well-publicised comeback to the pool during which he shed 40 kilograms and won two Commonwealth gold medals at the 2010 Games.
“I don’t assume [to know] anything,” Magistrate Farnan replied. “I have certainly heard of your client.”
She accepted that Huegill and Hill were remorseful and humiliated but said it was a “mystery” why people with so much to lose would use illegal drugs.
“It’s a very sad thing to see people like you before the court,” she said.
Outside court, Huegill and Hill apologised “to all the people we have let down”.
“The last couple of weeks of our lives have been some of the most stressful,” Huegill said. “Stressful for our families, stressful for our friends and stressful for our business associates.”
He said they were both looking forward to earning back the trust and respect of those who have supposed them but the most difficult part of the ordeal would be telling their two young daughters one day.
“At some stage in the future, both Sara and I are going to have to have this conversation with our girls,” he said.
The champion butterflier retired after the 2004 Athens Olympic, made a comeback in 2010 then retired again in 2012 after he failed to make the team for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
He married Hill in 2011.
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